In a prior post, I observed that the process of hammering out the DSM-5 had degenerated into a bar room brawl. Major figures in the development of past DSM versions, such as Allen Frances (the DSM-4 chairman) and Robert Spitzer (DSM-3 chairman), had both severely criticized the DSM-V process for lack of transparency and for a headlong rush to get the thing done too quickly in order to start making the APA some money.
Looking at the just-released proposed DSM-5 criteria, I'm pleased to say that the APA leadership has apparently been listening. They've pushed the planned publication out two full years to 2013, giving everybody time to review the proposal and to do some field testing. They have made the process far more transparent by posting task force reports on the DSM-5 web site. And they have avoided trying to pretend that DSM is ready for a paradigm shift in which diagnoses are based on neurobiological criteria (here's a secret--they don't exist yet in psychiatry).
Here's a quick Carlat-tour through some of the the main proposals.
--Temper dysregulation with dysphoria (TDD). A much more accurate way of categorizing children with explosive temper tantrums so that they don't get misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder. This is a response to the fact that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has increased 8,000% over the past decade.
--Addiction and Related Disorders. No more having to deal with the confusing terms "substance abuse" vs. "substance dependence"--both will be jettisoned in favor of the catch-all term "addiction." Currently, "dependence" is supposed to be a more severe problem than "abuse" but there was no good way of distinguishing the two in real patients. When someone has a problem with drug or alcohol craving, it's an addiction, pure and simple, and DSM-5 will acknowledge this.
--Autism Spectrum Disorders. This makes a lot of sense. No longer do we have to figure out: "Is this mild autism? Or is it severe Asperger's?" Now we can describe such patients as being somewhere on the spectrum of autism and spend more time understanding them as people rather than coming up with just the right label.
--Binge Eating Disorder. Some might see this as a form of disease mongering--that is, expanding the definitions of diseases to label more and more people as mentally impaired. But in fact I see patients with BED (as it's abbreviated) in my office with some frequency. These are not just overeaters, but rather patients who compulsively binge and have lost all sense of control.
--Risk Syndrome for Psychosis. This is a bit more iffy a proposal in my opinion. The idea is that you can diagnose people who have milder symptoms of psychosis before they develop full blown schizophrenia. Then, maybe you can prevent a more severe disease by starting them on prophylactic antipsychotics. But the research is debatable. Only about 35% of patients who qualify for this "pre-psychosis" end up developing true psychosis. I doubt this will make it into the final DSM-5 as an official disorder.
There are others potential disorders to examine, but I'll look at those in future posts. We all have a few years to comment on these proposals, and I think they are offered in the spirit of healthy conversation and debate. Thumbs up to the DSM Task Force.